I personally am ok with meetings when they are for one of a few simple purposes:
- To discuss important issues, where there could be divergent opinions or valuable insights from folks that are driven by the interaction;
- To make or ratify an Important decision;
- To ensure the attendees are engaged with each other.
Most of the benefits of interacting in person related to these purposes can boil down to ensuring we are aligned as a group. I prefer to hold most meetings with my team, as I am trying to ensure we are fitting with each other culturally, personally and professionally. But meetings are great when it’s divergent groups as well such as when you want to diffuse a tense situation (maybe someone else in the organization or a key client is unhappy) – it seems like it is much harder to be mad at someone if you see them in person. Or at least the anger gets channeled into more productive conversations and people tend to move more quickly to focusing on resolving the issues versus complaining about them. These things take longer (or don’t happen at all) in email, and by phone.
There is something about looking each other in the eyes and getting acknowledgement, or ratification of a decision, or validation that you have been heard. I think this is why the convention and conference and meetings business is still doing great despite all the technology that would allow us to NOT have meetings. As humans we still want to connect with each other.
Of course, meetings need to be planned and executed appropriately to be effective – lots of literature and opinions on how to do that so I won’t go into all of it. But I think if you are the owner of a meeting, you owe it to the group to sit quietly for a bit a few days before the meeting to think about what should be discussed and how, and if materials are needed or you need to reach out to any attendees for information. If everyone did that, my guess is we have tackled 80% of the “bad meetings” I hear about.